Allen: Summer Games Done Quick, a live, charity-driven speed running competition hosted primarily on Twitch.tv ends tomorrow. It’s essentially just a series of scheduled games that Speedrunners from all over the world join in to play and beat as quickly as possible (hence the term “speedrunning”.) Besides being a fun look into the minutia of exploiting glitches and game abilities to play games in interesting ways, it represents a sea change in how people consume and interact with online video.
Users donate to a charity on a per-game basis. If, say, the upcoming speedrun is for Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger,the user who donates the most gets to name the player character whatever they want. It feels like a beautiful use of Internet meme culture, where names are picked by the people who care to invest the most, not a vocal minority who would probably name everyone “BatmanX420.” And since it’s all livestreamed, the whole affair feels like a television network, with new content being broadcast constantly, the best games being played at prime time, and highlights hitting YouTube within hours of airing. It’s nice to see game enthusiasts all watching a fascinating series of skill-based play for a good cause.
Magellan: The link at the end of this entry is for a video that went viral last week, but that I’d still love to talk about. It’s that fan-made trailer for the original Star Wars trilogy stylized like the trailer for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which I can’t help but play over and over again. Something about watching “Hooked on a Feeling” kick in with R2 lighting up and then watching Han run screaming through an Imperial hallway is at once cloyingly nostalgic and viscerally refreshing. If nothing else, I now want to watch the Original Trilogy over again at the next available opportunity (even the Prequel Trilogy version is quite fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYMJdhbitXQ). More than that, though, I experienced a new-found enthusiasm for the upcoming trilogy. This was helped in no small part by another bit of information that came out last week: Rian Johnson (of Brick and Looper fame) is directing the 8th film (http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/star-wars-enlists-rian-johnson-to-direct-episode-viii-20140620). I’ve been a huge Rian Johnson fan for years now, so you can imagine my glee at seeing a universe I adore promised to the guidance of a creator who I deeply respect and enjoy. I suppose there isn’t much else to say except that I feel we’re on the cusp of a Star Wars Renaissance. People who, like me, grew up with this universe are finally being given the chance to influence it in a big way, and I think that portends great things.
James: I am going to go with something a little more mainstream here, and talk about something that most people already know. Recently I have been getting into TED talks, where TED stands for technology, entertainment, and design. These talks can range on anything from a four minute video on the most efficient way to use a paper towel (http://www.ted.com/talks/joe_smith_how_to_use_a_paper_towel) to a twenty minute talk on how body language can affect your life (http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are) . All of the episodes are smart, for the most part funny, and most importantly, less than half an hour long. These little gems can help fill a seemingly unproductive day with a fresh take on the world. There are mobile apps that give all kinds of cool talks, with topics ranging from all of the sides of science, artistry, and real-life. So today, I am pushing you to take half an hour out of your day to find and watch a TED talk that could make your day. The concepts in TED talks are fascinating, and at the very least can spark up interesting dinner conversations, even if they don’t change your life. But trust me, they will.